Disney

A dream is a wish your heart makes. Making that wish at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve in front of Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World is pure magic; add in a 30th birthday wish the following day and your fairytale imagination has reached an all new high!

For winter break, new years, and a very special birthday, Ben and I packed our bags and flew to Florida for a getaway to the happiest place on earth. *For those who do not know, I took a new job back in September with the public school system. It was another dream come true for me. With this exciting new career opportunity I now am very fortunate to have large chunks of time off work. Summer break, Spring break, Winter break, snow days, holidays, I’m basically in heaven. Ben and I foresee taking this new opportunity to open up realms of travel destinations for us.

On January 2nd I said goodbye to my twenties and hello to my thriving thirties. Ben asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and in a cliché response as if I was winning the super bowl I said, “I’m going to Disney World!” I later thought why not? Where can I turn another year older while getting free rein to act like a kid? Disney has said himself, “the trouble with the world is too many people grow up.” I was going to welcome this new decade and the New Year with fun and spirit.

The first day we arrived we headed to Downtown Disney to enjoy dinner at one of the plentiful restaurant options, as well as take in The La Nouba Cirque du Soleil show. Dinner was delicious (like all food at Disney) and the show was breath taking. Ben and I had our jaws dropped the entire evening. The talent these acrobats displayed was amazing and more so the live music was a disbelief. We could not believe these talented performers were in synch with such powerfully played music. We were very happy we decided to see the show. It provided a different level of entertainment compared to the rides and parks.

The second day was New Years Eve and we knew we would be spending the day in the most iconic park at Disney World, The Magic Kingdom. We left our Disney resort hotel and arrived via the provided shuttle service. Once through the gates we walked up Main Street and arrived smack-dab in front of Cinderella’s Castle. It truly is a crazy feeling. No matter how old you are or how grown up you think you are, Disney has this ability to transform you to your childhood. Giddy and wrapped up in the excitement you have to pause a moment and think of how wonderful this all is.

Ben and I spent the day walking around, getting on rides, meeting characters and acting like kids. In the evening the park is transformed into a winter fantasyland. I am a true lover of snow and in the most magical way possible it snows in Disney World! When the sun goes down and the Christmas lights came on, tiny little bubbles of snow were sprayed from the tops of all the buildings. People (meaning I) danced in circles in the streets by this pleasant surprise. Snow in 70-degree weather? Yes please! As the night wound down the parade took place and a small fireworks show followed. The fireworks were such a sight right behind the castle, which has this high tech light show transforming the castle in rich colors and specific Disney scenes. The fact that this was not even the New Years Eve fireworks had me anticipating what was to come at midnight. At the stroke of the clock the entire park displayed a panoramic event of fireworks. Ben and I took it all in and were ready to start the New Year.

The following day the park was way less crowded with the majority of families heading home. Ben and I hopped between Hollywood Studios and the Magic Kingdom. We finished the night in the Magic Kingdom. I wanted to get on the Peter Pan ride shortly before midnight (shortly before turning 30). What is more fitting than being reminded of the youthful mindset of Peter Pan right before turning another year older? The ride was so neat and we got off with a few minutes to spare before midnight, another special strike of the clock. We walked over to the carousel, my favorite ride as a child and apparently Walt’s favorite ride as well. I got up on my horse and January 2nd arrived.

On my actual birthday Ben and I spent the day in Epcot. After the childhood memories were touched upon, Ben and I were ready to make some new memories for this special occasion. We spent the day partaking in Epcot’s most joyous event, Drinking Around the World! We started in Mexico and ended in Canada. We worked our way through 11 Countries, drinking beverage after beverage and were very giddy by the end of it. It was a great time and the best birthday thus far.

The 3rd arrived without welcome and we had to leave a fantasy to head back to the real wold. However, in true form no journey is complete without a little travel drama. But as we discovered on this day, sometimes little hiccups end up being the opportunities to have even more fun in an otherwise uneventful situation. To sum it all up for you we left the Orlando Airport but neither by plane nor train. A 12 hour road trip was another little vacation adventure in and of itself ;)

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Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid



The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh



Lunch at Belle and Beast’s Be Our Guest




Lumiere suggested the gray stuff and it sure was delicious

Magic Kingdom Fireworks




Toon Town

Star Tours


The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights





Magic Kingdom Birthday Spectacular





Epcot Birthday Drinking Fun


Margaritas in Mexico

Carlsberg in Norway

Tipsy Duck in China

Radeburger Pilsner in Germany

Pinot Noir in Italy

Sake in Japan

Apricot Beer in Morocco

1664 and a birthday grey goose shot in France

A pint of Harp Lager in the UK

And last but not least Canadia ruined it by being closed due to inclement weather. Yup that’s right Canada closed due to rain. We were determined to finish the tour so we said damn the canuck and purchased a bottle of Canadian Apple Wine to further inebriate us back at the hotel.

* You may notice we are missing 1 out of the 11 photos. ‘Merica was flooded with pesky tourist so we slammed our Bell’s Oberon and got the heck out of dodge.

Nick + Susy

Back in August our friends, Nick & Susy approached us and asked us to take their engagement photos. We were honored and, of course, happy to help them out.

We met up with Nick & Susy on a rainy Sunday in August in downtown Washington D.C. where we took a few shots around the mall and then made our way over to the National Gallery of Art to do a few indoor shots.

This was our first project on a more “professional” level considering an engagement session is a pretty big deal for all parties involved. We were a little nervous at first but it pretty quickly turned into a rather fun shoot.

Amanda and I learned a lot working together picking up on each others strengths and trying to leverage them. For instance, she’s more creative and I’m more technical. I can tell you that at ISO 100 at f/9 and a 1/100th of a second shutter speed you’re going to be under- (or maybe over-) exposed and tell you how to fix it. What I can’t always tell you is “is this framing better than this framing?” or the like. I need time to soak in a shot before I can point out what is aesthetically wrong with it, while I can tell you technically what’s wrong immediately, though I am getting faster.

Anyhow, here are some of our favorites from the day…

After a day around the district the four of us concluded the day with dinner and a couple drinks at a nice German Biergarten. During the course of the meal, Amanda and I presented Nick & Susy with a questionable wedding gift. We offered to spend their wedding day capturing the moments so we could make a video for them, that is if they were interested. To my amazement, they were excited we offered to put our skills to the test.

On the day of the wedding we arrived early in Old Town Alexandria and before we met up with the bride and groom we spent the morning walking around filming the sights and sounds of a busy farmers market across the street from the bridal party hotel.

This was a nice way to start the day and grab some perfect filler material for the video.

Once we were caffeinated and filled up on market treats we met up with Nick & Susy in the bridal suite where Amanda spent the morning with Susy and I with Nick (and their assorted wedding party).

After the morning primp sessions were over, we dutifully followed our respective party to the ceremony and reception.

I then spent three months (yes, three months) editing an 8 minute video. To be fair it started off as about seven hours of raw footage, but I learned a lot about the complexities of video editing (that’s not to say I don’t have more to learn…a lot more) but it was a fun project and it was absolutely awesome that Nick & Susy were so willing to let us into their day like that.

At any rate, here’s the video, they’re a wonderful couple and we wish them the best of luck and a heartfelt congratulations!

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October Family Fun

In the beginning of October Ben’s mom and stepdad came out to visit their favorite Maryland folk. This was their first trip back to Maryland since the wedding and their second trip in honor of their wedding anniversary. We were very excited to have them.

With the excitement buzzing Ben and I kicked our Home Remodeling plans into full gear to allow my in-laws a nice spot to rest and call their own for the long weekend. These remodeling plans will be within their own blog post but I’ll give you a condensed version for the time being. Ben and I were ready to extend our house nesting to the next level; an adult bedroom was in order. Therefore, we redid the Master Bedroom and in turn redid the Guest Bedroom. Ben has once again wowed me with his dedication to becoming even handier and I polished my fabulous decorating skills. Needless to say everything came together and we now have two amazing rooms. I tell you the more we do to the house the harder it is becoming for me to pick my favorite spot.

So with the bedroom and house “guest ready” approved I got to work on the extended weekend itinerary. I based our activities on things we all like to do, showing the in laws a few of our favorite spots, centered on autumn activities and most importantly made sure to get us outside as much as possible. Hiking, apple picking, pumpkin picking, autumn leave watching and so on were on the agenda. I had a pretty rocking list of activities to get the most out of our time together. And then just like the black plague rolled in on the medieval times, the black rain clouds rolled in on our family times. It also didn’t help that the Federal Government was still shut down and in turn prohibited us from visiting a few spots on my list. So with many museums and parks closed and the seriously heavy monsoon rain we had every day, except the last day, I had to regroup and come up with some weather permitting ideas. Thankfully my planning brain cells kicked in and I tweaked our list to adhere to the rainy weather.

One of these new planned activities was taking a quick drive up to the city of brotherly love. Maryland really is a prime location for adventures in nearby places; you can drive just a short distance and be in many other touristy spots. In Philly we decided to get our Halloween spirit kicking with a visit to the “abandoned” Eastern State Penitentiary…and of course fill our stomach with authentic Philly cheese steaks, you know since we were there and all.

Delicious food aside the Penitentiary was awesome. What is considered to be the world’s first solitary confinement penitentiary built in the early 1800’s, is now open to the public for thrilling and educational tours, as well as a distinguishing opportunity for any level of photographer to snap away. Without getting into too much history in this post, if you’re interested in discovering this decrepit time capsule you can click on this link and visit the website for an online virtual tour. Sure you won’t have the opportunity to take photos but you will get a mood setting voice to put you more into the feel of things and I have happily provided some amazing photos captured by my ever so talented husband.

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P.S. In case you were wondering the provided tour voice is none other than Steve Buscemi! And if you are a sci-fi thriller movie fan you should be interested to know that parts of Twelve Monkeys were filmed at the Eastern State Penitentiary.

Our One Year Anniversary

Ben and I can hardly believe it but our one year wedding anniversary has gone and past. Time sure does fly. It’s amazing to think back on the past year. The fun and memories, the love and learning, the growing pains and obstacles, the camaraderie and partnership and the many many more day-to-day discoveries of commitment and love that have greeted both Ben and I in our first year.

Before diving into our amazing anniversary weekend I also want to pay homage to our b and a blog. Since we have come upon our one year anniversary that also means this little spot on the internet has come upon it’s one year anniversary as well. So far so good, I’d say. Not as many posts as there could be of course but by no means am I stressing myself out about added homework to get these things up for whomever might be reading them. It’s been a nice place to share a few stories and pictures here and there. In fact on a more personal and private opportunity I’ve taken to writing in a personal journal. Back in January one of my very dear Aunts gifted me a beautiful personal journal, a spot just for me and my thoughts. I dedicated the first year of the journal to all things marriage related. A place to truly document all the encounters Ben and I came upon. I think one day when I look back on those first year entries I will be very pleased that I captured those moments. From here on out I plan to continue writing in the personal journal and blogging here on the website. Before I know it in five years I hope to look back on both and revisit all of the noteworthy events that Ben and I shared.

Without further adieu, Ben and I celebrated our year of time passed in no other place than the Longhorn State. I can’t say I ever thought Texas would be the place I spent my first anniversary but with all the honesty in the world, I sure am happy I did. We had an absolute blast! What started as a somewhat last minute business trip for Ben turned into one of the best vacations I’ve ever experienced.

This was my second trip to San Antonio and for Ben somewhere in the half dozens. Ben flew out first on Sunday afternoon and I followed suit on Wednesday. Even if this trip didn’t turn out as spectacular as it did I really couldn’t have complained to begin with considering the cost for us was simply my plane ticket. Business trips aren’t all that bad, especially when the wife can tote around ;)

Ben ended up only working a few days, Monday – Wednesday and then we had all of Wednesday evening through the following Monday to explore and relax. We put no pressure on ourselves to do specific things on specific days at specific times. This was super nice for me seeing as I tend to stress myself with plans and getting in as much exploring as possible. I of course looked up options on things to do before flying out, places to go and food to eat but I wasn’t going to hold us accountable for doing every single thing. With all the nice attributes of San Antonio in the back of my mind, I know that in the future the likelihood of returning is good since this is the headquarters of Mr. Work-from-home’s employer. Subconsciously I think this helped with not feeling rushed to see as many things as possible. We spent our mornings sleeping in, our afternoons discovering and our evenings reminiscing over the past year and dreaming of the years to come. Our trip was a second Honeymoon without a doubt.

Breakfast in bed at the Valencia (We highly recommend this hotel if ever in the area).

Anniversary flowers waiting for me at the hotel (Ben did his best to match my wedding bouquet).

As the paper gift for the one year anniversary Ben displayed all our wedding photos around the hotel room.

More wedding photos sprawled about.

We spent a day in Austin and stopped at Zilker Park where they had a neat little natural history reserve with a small zoo, interactive paleontologist excavating park and more.

This little Blue Jay at the reserve quickly became my friend, singing along to my whistles.

A lunch date at Torchy’s Tacos in Austin – Home of the delicious food truck.

My handsome husband.

Tweety Tacos.

My “Ben are you really taking my photo right now?” look.

B + A signature selfie.

A friendly Austin local snapped this one.

6th Street in Austin was so much fun – Happy Hour beers and live music.

At dusk in Austin we stood on the Congress Avenue bridge to see all the bats fly out from underneath for their morning feast.

Dark clouds of bats.

Keep Austin Batty.

Lunch at Rudy’s – dubbed The World’s Worst BBQ.

More like the BEST BBQ

An afternoon of canoeing on the Guadalupe River near San Antonio

Ben telling me there was a big Texas sized spider behind me – Not funny, Ben!

The Guadalupe River

Tree roots along the river.

My handsome canoeing husband.

Relaxing on the river.

It was a beautiful day.

Heading down river.

Enjoying the Texas sky.

Walking the streets of downtown San Antonio.

Dinner and craft cocktails at the Esquire in San Antonio.

The Esquire – if only one reason to ever visit San Antonio (never will there ever be just one reason because it’s all too good) this is now that reason.

Sweet treats.

One of what used to be the many vintage neon signs around downtown.

An anniversary photo shoot on our balcony overlooking the courtyard at the Valencia.

Dressed up and looking forward to my very first anniversary dinner at an authentic Texas Steak House (Outback just doesn’t cut it anymore).

Anniversary kisses.

Love this man

Back home in Maryland sticking with the tradition of eating leftover wedding cake and in our case pie as well (don’t worry, the purple spots of the pie are not mold, just left over gel icing from the B + A).

And finally, creating a tradition – Ben proposed over a bottle of sparkling Cava, we had another bottle on our sweet heart table at the wedding and now a must for all anniversaries, I’ve been keeping all the corks as well.

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The Beach

so it turns out that being close to the ocean isn’t really all that bad. I learned this back in July when we took a trip over to bethany beach with a good portion of amanda’s family. being a midwesterner, I never really understood the allure. sand in your…no, sand EVERYWHERE, cold water, sharks, the whole nine.

it was really a great time though, even with all the sand, cold water, and sharks! I got to show amanda her first sunrise (I know, I’m with ya’, I couldn’t believe she’d never seen the sun rise either…even by accident in college). we had a blast out on the beach when nobody else was out there.

after that it turned out to be somewhat of a chilly day with overcast skies and storms scheduled for later in the afternoon. we roughed it though nevertheless…we didn’t trek all the way to the ocean to sit in the house and look out the window, after all.

with the wind blowing and the threat of rain, we carried on like nothing was amiss…aside from all the jackets/sweatshirts that were in use.

despite being one of very few groups on the beach -or perhaps as a direct result- we had some company in the form of seagulls.

he might look nice but I assure you his intentions were to eat our precious food if he could get his dirty little beak on it, the nerve of these scavengers!

fortunately the second day proved to be a bit more…sunny and warm. as I understand it that’s how days at the beach are supposed to be, who knew?

why, someone even built a sand castle. how quaint.

while we were there I took the opportunity to take a few not-as-candid photos for a couple people and it never ceases to amaze me at how difficult children are to photograph, but the results can be quite nice if you’re willing to be patient and hold off on releasing the shutter until the hopefully right moment.

all in all we had a wonderful time and I have a newfound understanding for the beach. I’m also slightly less terrified of getting into the ocean…but only slightly.

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